NTPC antifreeze spill no threat to Iqaluit water supply

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

SEAN MCKIBBON
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — An antifreeze spill from the Iqaluit power plant into a nearby pond was discovered last week because of cold weather.

NTPC employees repairing the plant’s heating system discovered that an estimated 1,500 litres of glycol coolant — a type of antifreeze — had leaked out of the heater into a small pond downstream from Iqaluit’s water supply.

“They discovered it had run through a floor drain, through a faulty valve and it had leaked into a drainage ditch,” said Axel Have, the director of NTPC’s Nunavut operations. Have said NTPC workers soon found the coolant in a shallow pond.

“Thank God glycol is heavier than water and it sank to the bottom of the pond,” said Have. He said workers were able to use small pumps to suck the coolant out of the pond and collect 12 barrels, which are being stored at the power plant site.

He said the plant doesn’t usually use the heating system in the summer, but because of cold temperatures last week, it was called back into service. When it didn’t work, a repair crew was called in and they discovered the leak.

There is no threat to the town’s drinking water supply, Have said.

Earle Baddaloo of the Department of Sustainable Development’s environmental protection department said the spill was contained well and should not pose much risk to wildlife.

“It’s good to get to a site and see activities being done and people concerned, and people following procedures, without you asking them,” Baddaloo said.

He said the stream the pond is a part of was blocked off quickly by NTPC workers. In a quick inspection of soil from the stream bed he was unable to detect any scent of glycol. But he said further tests will be needed.

Glycol dissolves in water. Tests on soil and water downstream from the spill site are to be performed to see if more clean up is necessary, Have said.

An environmental engineer was to arrive in Iqaluit Wednesday to assess the situation.

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